TUESDAY AUGUST 22ND
I have three matches to discuss today, two Carling Cup and one non league match, I did have a good look at the Champions League fixtures, but have decided to pass.
In the Blue Square South, Eastleigh, who are having a shocking time of things, entertain Woking who are unbeaten after three starts, creating a lot of chances in the process and I do not see much changing this evening.
Hosts are 0-0-3 with a -7 goal difference and got a real tonking from a fairly limited Tonbridge Angels team at the weekend. This followed on from a very long midweek trip to Truro and back in midweek and 14-16 hours minimum on a bus, inside a four day period to get two beatings , must leave confidence and energy levels at a very low ebb, especially as they played 70 minutes with ten men and finished with nine players in the second of these. That means that an already skinny squad with just 8-9 senior players and a whole host of youngsters, is going to be further stretched tonight. When young players lose their confidence, it is very hard to get it back and this squad is really struggling.
Eastleigh had a poor end to last season, conceding a league high 19 home goals in the second half of the campaign and after a huge cost cutting exercise in the summer have carried that form ( and then some !) over to this season. Expectation levels were very low pre season and the coach described his job as "like climbing up Everest in flip flops", he was not helped by having three different assistants in pre season, the first two realising the enormity of the job and leaving to join other clubs !
Woking signed a whole crop of talented former players back to the club and several others who know what is required to get out of this division and are intent to finally return to the Conference. They opened with a fine 5-0 win at Sutton United GOAL HIGHLIGHTS and have since collected four points from two home starts, with a lot of goal scoring chances in each. In Ademola, Binns, Sole, Hammond and Cowan-Hall they have a huge amount of attacking flair and pace going forward and it might well be that they will have more joy on the road, when they have space to exploit. They were 15-3-3 in the second half of last season, which over a full campaign would have seen them win the title by 14 points and having started so well and boosted the squad considerably, they are not going to be too far off first place this time round. I have to make them a solid bet to record another comfortable road win. 1.5 units Woking -0.5 ball 1.96 asian line.
Next up is Wycombe Wanderers- Nottingham Forest. I am not keen on this Wanderers team, I saw them play three times last season and they were second best on each occasion, quite how they got promoted ahead of say Shrewsbury Town was hard to understand, but after 46 games I guess they deserved it. They have been a bit of a yo-yo team between Div 1 and 2 in recent seasons and will want to give priority to survival this season, especially after losing 2-0 at home to Bury at the weekend and losing their long unbeaten ( a lot of draws) record. They face two of the division favourites in Huddersfield Town and Brentford in consecutive matches next and could quickly find themselves in trouble, if they do not pick up something from those two games. This is an attractive fixture for them, but not one that has really attracted much public attention and they will not take any chances with players carrying knocks and there are quite a few. Defensively they leave plenty of gaps at the back and are a little slow to close players down, the quicker Championship visitors should enjoy the space and get a lot of joy going forward.
Forest were not in the 2-2 draw with Leicester City for the first 30 minutes, but there was plenty to like about the way they battled back from two down and whilst they seem sure to rotate a little tonight, what they really need is to build some momentum and a couple of key players urgently need some game time. Whomever starts will want to take advanatge, with Steve McClaren stating his intention to get busy in the transfer market this week, with three "stellar signings" about to be made. At Middlesbrough the coach always took the cup competitions seriously and I see no change in that this evening. Nottingham Forest -0.25 1.87 asian line.
I will not put this up as an "official bet", as I would like to see some confirmed line ups, but Crystal Palace who are very strong at Selhurst Part look very big to beat big spending Crawley Town. Hosts are 11-5-2 here in the last ten months conceding just 14 goals, considering they looked booked for relegation for much of last season, that was tremendous consistency. They have three wins from four starts this season and led in the single loss, already matching their road tally of wins ( one) for the whole of last season. They have a good mixture of experience and "hungry young players" who are "very exciting going forward" in the words of boss Dougie Freedman, they have a big home game with Blackpool at the weekend, but I would be happy to take some of this 2.29 if I knew they were naming a strong starting eleven, I think oddsmakers have gone too overboard about the visitors and that there will be value in opposing them in the coming weeks if we XXXX XXXXX X X XXXXX XXXX .
I am not covering any "in running" games on Tuesday, but will be going to either the Wycombe Wanderers or Maidenhead- Thurrock ( BSS) games ( both are local to me) to try and learn something for the future,so will not be wasting my time !